Born in Montreal, Canada, Gary Wihl went on to graduate McGill University with an M.A. in English, and then Yale University with a Ph.D in English. He has received various grants and done several research projects, earning the recognition of various organizations. As dean, he introduced many programs, recruited many great faculty members and made his schools overall better places.
Right now, Gary Wihl is on sabbatical leave, pursuing two research projects: one on intellectual property regarding issues of cultural patrimony and the trade in antiquities, and the other on Tocquevillle regarding the newness of democratic literature. His research in general focuses on the interpretation of liberalism and constitutional change in selected 19th and 20th century English and American authors. He is the author of two books, published by Yale University Press: Ruskin and the Rhetoric of Infallibility and The Contingency of Theory: Pragmatism, Expressivism, and Deconstruction. He is also the co-editor of two others books and the author of several collections of essays. He has presented papers at the Law School on Habermas and on Ronald Dworkin. He has received numerous awards from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.At Rice University, Gary Wihl was the dean of Humanities from 2003 to 2009. He oversaw approximately 50 administrative staff and 150 faculty members, with a budget of about $26 million. He was responsible for 12 departments, four interdepartmental programs and three centers. He raised more than $40 million for the school, increased support for faculty research by 348 percent, and raised graduate stipends by 32.5 percent. He established a Humanities Advisory Board, which included prominent alumni from the fields of art, investment banking, venture capital and law.
He also improved course offerings. He introduced various doctoral programs, including an innovative training program for doctoral students with the support of the Andrew Mellon Foundation and an art history program in collaboration with Houston’s major art museums. He launched undergraduate programs in creative writing, poverty and social justice studies, as well as study-abroad fellowships and courses, and a pilot program in medical humanities. He also established postdoctoral fellowships in the fields of gender studies, classics, linguistics and German studies.
At Washington University, Gary Wihl oversaw about 375 administrative staff and 400 faculty members, with a budget of about $240 million. He was responsible for 20 departments, 15 interdepartmental programs and 13 centers. He recruited key faculty and oversaw the redevelopment of Umrath and Cupples II halls.